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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film's position is that the Obama administration emphasized using diplomacy and dialogue to solve problems, and that, in the 2016 election, those ideals were crushed. Whether you agree will affect how you interpret that angle.
Positive Role Models
The movie presents Obama's foreign policy team as decent, if flawed, people who are moved and honored to serve their country in whatever ways they can. It's exciting to see a woman -- Samantha Power -- in such a high, respected position. National Security Advisor Susan Rice (a woman of color) is briefly interviewed.
Violence & Scariness
Brief, disturbing footage of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Discussion of the crisis in Syria. Dead cockroach shown. Tense, stressful, upsetting situations.
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A use of "f---ing," a use of "a--hole," and a use of "damn."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Final Year is a documentary that follows President Barack Obama's foreign policy team as they struggle to wrap up as many loose ends as possible before the end of his eight-year term. Obama's supporters will find it a revealing but difficult movie (it leaves off less with a sense of accomplishment than with a crushing reality check), and his detractors probably won't bother at all. Expect brief but disturbing footage of Hiroshima after the WWII nuclear bombings, discussion of the crisis in Syria, and some tense, stressful situations. Language includes single uses of "f---ing," "a--hole," and "damn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Filmmaker Greg Barker's documentary is both an inspiring portrait of an American leader and a shattering reality check (depending on your politics, of course). With unprecedented access to Obama's foreign policy team in 2016, The Final Year begins with messages of diplomacy and hope as the president's team tries to find peaceful, humanitarian ways to communicate with others and seek solutions. But, as Rhodes explains in one scene, they couldn't foresee a "growing authoritarianism and nationalism."
Barker's camera gets into some very personal spaces, especially when it comes to Rhodes and Power, both of whom seem proud and moved by the privilege of being able to do their work. They struggle with too much to do and too little time, and the movie effectively finds the humanity behind the duty. Briefer interviews with Kerry and Obama himself are also thoughtful and bittersweet. As the film reaches its conclusion, however, viewers who supported Obama are likely to find the movie terribly crushing and bleak. And viewers who opposed him? They probably won't be interested in watching it at all.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.